Thursday, July 24, 2008

Aliens in our Midst

I came across a great little project last night. This particular site is an awesome place to find cool art lessons and projects. To get all the instructions and materials click here.
The finished results are the aliens or monsters our names reveal us to be.
The boys kept on in their artistic endeavors this evening and you will see them working hard in these next pictures.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rain, rain, don't go away, come again and stay today!

On Sunday morning we were exposed to a very unusual treat in the desert; a rainstorm.
It was really in the flash flood category and several places in the desert actually had a lot of water damage. Thankfully we were simply able to enjoy the downpour. God knew my car washer is in Pennsylvania so He helped me out a bit. Lately, when giving people directions to my house, I have told them to look for the dirty green Hyundai in the driveway. As of Sunday it will probably be a week or so before I can say that again. Most rains in the desert result in a dirtier car since the small amounts of drizzle mixed with all the dirt end up as mud, but not this time.
The kids were so excited. It seems so lame to be excited about rain, but when you hardly ever see any it is kind of a big deal. They kept running back and forth from one window to the other. They found our only umbrella and were very concerned that we should be wearing warm enough clothes when we went outside. Of course the storm lasted maybe 15 minutes and was over before we left for church. Later on the evening Jody went swimming with the boys. It has left us with slightly cooler temperatures this week. Unlike me.
I woke up with a headache yesterday and by last night I had almost 102 degree fever. I am feeling a bit better today so hopefully that trend will continue. The only real symptom thus far is the temperature. So if you would, please pray for me. I can not afford to be sick. Either financially or schedule wise.
On a brighter note, I subscribed recently to a word of the day email. I really love language and the correct usage of it. I have always loved to write and from a pretty young age I would correct my mom's pronunciation of words. All my kids have a very high vocabulary for their age since I have never watered down mine around them. So ironically the very first word they sent me was grammolatry. It is closely related to idolatry and means the worship of words. This is something new to think about for me.
I also want to make an announcement as to the nature of some of my future posts. I have been reading a little book called Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer. It is a good little book about how as Christians we are to approach art and the creative process. I want to go a bit further in my own study of this. Since I teach young people about art and hopefully I am teaching them something about the Lord in the process, I hope to glorify God through all that I do. I will be beginning a study of the bible and how it relates to all the elements of visual art. Those elements are line, shape, value, texture, color, form, and space. Within each of those categories are subcategories as well. I am not giving up on Proverbs just yet either.
If this post was really weird, blame it on the fever.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Art Lesson # 3 The Secret to Drawing

Anyone can learn to draw! Of course acquiring any skill takes time and practice, but if you practice the secret I am about to share with you, you will eventually become pretty competent at drawing what you see. Just remember, that like great musicians, great artists don't happen overnight and they don't get there without a lot of hard work. Natural talent does play a factor as well, hard work will trump talent on most any day. It is only the combination of the two that results in greatness.
And now the secret...
Start by choosing a picture you want to draw. It can be anything, but if you are very young or just starting out, pick something simple so you won't get frustrated. This week we chose to draw our own version of Frederic Remington's "Sun Fisher". Once you have picked your subject, do a black line tracing of it. It will look like a page from a coloring book. You could also just start with a coloring book page. Here is the line drawing we started with.

What you do next is to get a colored pencil or crayon and trace over a small line.
You will see in the next picture, that the best line to start with is the long body line of the cowboy. It is outlined in red. Now make this same line on your blank paper. You can use your pencil to make measurements of the line, but it is better to teach your eyes to do it. The next lines to tackle are the back of the horse shown in blue and green. Add these to your drawing now as well. These lines will have now given you four quadrants.

Now just keep tracing a line at a time on your black line drawing and then recreate it on your drawing until you have all of the elements. As you draw each line on the black line, your hand is learning the feel of how to make the line again. Most of us, if asked could write our name with our eyes closed, simply because we have done it so often and there is a muscle memory that has been created. Writing and drawing are really the same thing. Making marks on the black line first make it easier to make those marks again.
You can use this same technique with anything you want to draw. Concentrate on trying to get the whole form in first and concentrate on details later.
Eventually you'll be able to do this with your eyes only and you won't need to trace the lines on the black line drawing first.
This was my completed sample...

This is Ryan's.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Some good news for a change, but it's not over yet.

Back in March a California Appeals court rendered a verdict that had it been upheld would have seriously threatened homeschooling in this state. Many believed, it would effectively make homeschooling illegal. It wouldn't have as I discussed in a previous blog, but it could have made a lot of trouble for homeschooling families from officials who misinterpreted the ruling. There was a lot of speculation and reaction from both sides of the argument. There was a lot of press regarding the whole issue. Maybe now, that the decision has all but been dismissed as of yesterday, the roar of outcry has been reduced to a tiny buzz. The story in the LA times was buried way back in the California Education section. Other than my notice from Focus on the Family, I wouldn't have heard anything about it. Interesting isn't it.
Here is the link to the story in the LA Times.

On another note....


Sure it says repressed. But it's still funny.

Will you recognize your king when he comes?

"All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the
cheerful heart has a continual feast." Proverbs 15:15

Have you ever woken up one morning and immediately said to yourself, "This is going to be a horrible day," ?
What happened? You probably had a horrible day, right?
Very few people can tolerate a perpetual "Pollyanna" but in some ways this is exactly what God is calling us to be. Or another shiny example is Mr. Bill, that tiny plasticine character that kind can the bright side of any situation. It may be an oversimplification, but I think we need to adopt the cup is half-full mentality and toss the half-empty one, because if we are sat down and really counted each one of our blessings, we know that the cup would really be overflowing.

In this world there truly are oppressed peoples. Poverty, disease, wars, slavery, are still a very real part of this modern world we live in. Most of my audience are probably not being oppressed by any of the aforementioned issues, but what if you are? Or what if you are being oppressed by something, maybe not as bad, but the weight of oppression is still there. Is any form of oppression easier than another form to the one who feels oppressed? Probably not because when we re oppressed, whether real or imagined, it becomes easy to lose hope. And when you lose hope the oppressors win, and the job provider of those oppressors win too. You know what his name is right? Satan. If Satan can destroy someone's hope, he has just shut the door on Jesus in that person's heart, because Jesus is hope. And without the hope of Jesus Christ we are indeed wretched.
Of course there are many in this world, in this country whose idea of oppression is "I'm oppressed if I can't get what I want, exactly when I want it!" According to this definition all two year olds and most teenagers(at least my daughter) are oppressed.
How many times do we tell ourselves , "Well, I'll be happy when I get this, or when this happens.", only to see our desire come to fruition and still be unhappy and saying, "now, if this just happens, I'll be really happy." God does not promise us happiness. Happiness is fleeting. God wants us to focus on the eternal. Joy is eternal and there for the taking in every thought we have and every action we take. Of course like flowers with no sunlight, joy cannot exist without the presence of hope.
The bible is filled with verses about hope, both old and new testaments. We can find many words in Hebrew and Greek about hope. I challenge you to simply look up the word hope in a regular dictionary. It is an eye opening experience.
So to explore the second part of this verse... Many proverbs are structured this way in a comparison and contrast format. So to contrast or oppose oppression, the answer is to have a cheerful heart. How on Earth can one have a cheerful heart when they are being oppressed? There is no earthly way at all. The only way is through hope. If you accepted my challenge from above, you will have found that the word hope can be used as either a verb or a noun. In the Strong's Hebrew and Greek concordance this particular word for hope is elpis. According to Vines, we can also see this as meaning having hope in the author of hope or he who is at it's foundation. So the key to having a cheerful heart in any situation is to rely on the author of hope to give it to you because the world does not have it to give. It is hope that sustained Paul through all his trials. It was hope that allowed Peter to boldly go to his place of crucifixion on an upside down cross. It was hope that caused Jesus to die for our sins, not to receive it, but to give it, give it to us, through the resurrection.
So because He is God, He can be a noun and a verb at the same time. He is hope.
So, The next time you begin to feel oppressed, start concentrating on just how full your cup really is. Let it cheer you and bring the joy to your heart that God has promised us all through the hope that His son, the Lord Jesus Christ offers us.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Art Lesson #2- Joan Miro

Miro was a Spanish painter. He was friends with the likes of Picasso and Max Ernst. His work dips its toes in abstraction, cubism and surrealism all at the same time. This project is a great way to introduce young kids and those who are intimidated by the artistic process to creating art.


2 pieces of wax paper(each 10 1/2 x 12")
length of black yarn or embroidery floss
crayon sharpener
crayon shavings(red, blue, green, yellow, black)
white card stock 8 1/2 x 11 "
black card stock 12 x 12"
black sharpie pens
texture templates
iron(for the adult to use only)
scissors or exacto knife(for adult only)

(beforehand sharpen green, blue, red, yellow, and black crayons, I kept them in paper muffin liners. Warning, this can get messy and end up with you having to scrub your floor. I recommend doing this only on tile or outside. Do not attempt on carpet!)

Start out by showing examples of Miro's work. Talk about his life and his influences.
Point out to students that he tended to use the same four colors and black, and that line was very important in his work. He used thin,thick, light, and bold lines. Sometimes they were wavy, straight, bent, or curved. Sometimes they made a shape that we wouldn't normally see. He liked to be a bit silly in his work and his titles help us to understand what he wants us to see in his work. His titles help us to create a story around what he has illustrated for us.
Begin by giving each student a piece of wax paper(Use a piece of card stock as a template to mark out the picture area the kids are to use) and a black string. Have the kids play with the string until they have created a shape or group of shapes that will become the basis for the rest of their painting. Have the kids use sharpie markers to add more lines and details to the rest of the picture. After all the lines are in, the children can add color in the form of crayon shavings. Have them try to put the shavings only where the string has created a closed shape. (the string will prevent the color from bleeding too much when it is ironed). Once the kids are satisfied, add a top layer of wax paper. Use just a little tape at the edges to keep the papers together as you take them to the ironing board. With a cloth on the bottom, then the wax papers, and a piece of card stock on the top, iron the layers with an iron set to high. One or two passes should be sufficient to get the colors to melt, but check by pulling back the card stock a little. Make sure the wax papers have fused together. After the papers are cool enough to touch(10 seconds or so) give the pieces back to the kids for the next step. The kids are now to add more colors with regular crayon. Encourage them to darken some lines with black marker and maybe add some more. The idea here being to create different values of lines. At this point the kids can use the texture plates. Many of Miro's pieces were done on a heavy burlap so they had a lot of inherent texture. Once the kids think they are done, cut the picture out on the lines that were first made with the card stock template. Once complete, mount the picture on to the white card stock with a glue stick. Before they add the glue, they can even add some lines to this paper as they will slightly show through the wax paper giving the painting more depth. Then you will mount this on to the 12X12" inch piece of black card stock. Have the kids sign the piece in either black sharpie on the picture itself or under it in the black paper with a white crayon. Be prepared for some stunning results! Encourage them to title their piece and perhaps as an extension activity to write a story about it.

This sample is titles "Pistol" and was done by a 6 year old.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Don't Panic!

Well I thought I should report on how well Karate is going. It is going very well for Taylor. After Ryan's first class, most of which was spent in tears, we decided to wait a while before we put him in. Taylor however is thriving. He is so attentive and I can see how hard he is trying. Taylor's effort in things has been an issue for us in the past, but so far I have only seen 100 percent coming from him. Sometimes it pays to wait until their older to put them into things like this. It really isn't straight karate, it is a mixture of Tae Kwon Doe, Karate, Kickboxing and other Martial Arts. Last night, they were working on self defense strategies. Taylor did well. At first, you could tell he was a little reluctant to hit his teacher very hard, but each time he got better. I was so proud of him for not panicking when the teacher put him in a choke hold. The kids were instructed that the first thing to do in that situation is to make sure you can breathe by tucking your chin down in between the attackers forearm and your chest. At that point you can elbow punch them right in the chest. Another move involved evasive measures for when someone grabs you by the wrist. The kids were told to simply turn their palms over, like waiting for a "high five" and then to do a jump front kick to the attackers chest. Moving the hand puts the attacker off balance so when the kick comes it will push him back and break their grip, so you can get away. I loved that these moves were not heroic. They were simply about getting away as fast as possible and not panicking in the moment. Good things for all of us to remember. I am really happy about putting Jenna in this class when she gets home.
Some of the kids were so little that they could only kick their instructor with their tip toe. He made it all a game, but he was serious too. A couple of kids he just picked up and took off with. It was shocking to see how fast that could happen. Of course I really wanted to dare Sensei to try and pick Taylor up and take off with him! (Taylor weighs 96lbs) My husband and I have already let him know that if he ever falls asleep somewhere other than his bed, that is where he will find himself when he wakes up, because we are not going to try to move him.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

More quotables.

While getting ready for church...

"Taylor, push down your socks sweetie, they look a little geeky when you pull them all the way up like that and you're wearing shorts."
"Sigh. No one understands my style."